The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Wine Festival

Award-winning wines of the 2008 New Mexico Wine Festival

The Town of Bernalillo held its third annual wine competition of the New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort on August 16. The competition was open to participating festival wineries using New Mexico produce in the making of their wine. Wineries will have the wine available for purchase at the festival. The wines were tasted in a blind format and evaluated on the following criteria: color/clarity, bouquet/aroma, balance/body, flavors/taste, length/finish, and overall impression.

Award-winning wines received a judging consensus to be eligible for honors. The judges’ panel was well-rounded and represented wine buyers from New Mexico premium restaurants and boutiques, wine growers, wine enthusiasts, and connoisseurs. Mayor Patricia A. Chávez will formally present top-scoring wines at the festival in Bernalillo on Sunday, September 1 at 1:00 p.m.

“As one of the founding members of the New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo, it is a pleasure to continue the competition this year and see it expand in the number of wineries participating,” states Mayor Chávez. “The Town of Bernalillo wants to recognize wineries and winemakers for a long history of winemaking in New Mexico and of New Mexico fruits. I am impressed with the professional evaluation and execution of the wine competition, and pleased with the support of the wineries. This annual competition showcases the talents of New Mexico wineries, winemakers, and grape growers. ”

The wine competition awards begin with the top Best of Festival Medal, which is granted to one wine with the best overall total score without regard to varietals or category. The coveted honor goes to St. Clair Zinfandel 2006.

The Judges’ Favorite Medal goes to the wine scoring second in total points. That honor goes to Matheson Rio Cuveé 2005.

Next are the Best of Class Medals for excellent and outstanding wine in the following categories: sparking, white, blush, red, and other wines. Rounding off the competition are the select Gold and Silver Medals representing all categories and varietals.


BEST OF CLASS – Sparkling Wine: San Felipe Moscato 2007

BEST OF CLASS – White Wine: Tularosa Vineyards Gewürztraminer NV

BEST OF CLASS – Blush Wine: St. Clair White Shiraz NV

BEST OF CLASS – Red Wine: D.H. Lescombes Syrah 2007

BEST OF CLASS – Other Wines: Arena Blanca Chocolate Diablo 2005


•D.H. Lescombes Imperial Kir NV
•Black Mesa Black Beauty NV
•Matheson Docé NV
•Santa Fe Vineyards Zinfandel Port 2005
•Tularosa Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
•Tularosa Vineyards Symphony NV


•Arena Blanca La Luz Red NV
•Blue Teal Dolcetto 2007
•D.H. Lescombes Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
•Guadalupe Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2007
•Matheson Tres 2006
•St. Clair Reserve Merlot 2006

The 2008 New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo will be held on Labor Day weekend, August 30, August 31, and September 1 at Loretto Park in Bernalillo. Visit for festival details and tickets.

Rattlesnake advisory

I killed a rattlesnake in my driveway last summer, about a year after my dog, Lalo, was bitten. It was unnecessary, but I was still angry. Revenge was not sweet though, and I may have incurred some karmic debt—if only by my own dis-ease in the desert. Now Lalo is on his leash most of the time from April through October.

I’ve seen a bunch of snakes this summer, mostly big, beautiful bull snakes. I like them a lot and always stop to move them out of the road. It’s amazing how compliant most of them are. Lalo and I both walked right across a four-footer on an Open Space trail. We almost stepped on a sleeping rattler on our way up Del Agua trail—he was still there on our way down and paid no attention to us.

During snake season, I no longer wander around in the desert at night because that’s when they are most active, hunting during cooler hours under the cover of darkness.

Last month, my friend Dave Richards stepped out of his house in the hills north of Placitas Village. He was shaking a flashlight, trying to make it work, when he felt something hit his ankle. Maybe noise from the flashlight hid the sound of the rattle until it was too late. He never saw the snake, but a trickle of blood oozed from a single fang mark on his ankle. He was in trouble in minutes, but managed to drive up the arroyo to his neighbor’s house, who called 911.

His neighbor drove Dave to the Placitas fire station where he met the county ambulance fifteen or twenty minutes after the bite. Dave was already showing signs of shock and was feverish and cramping. By the time they reached UNM Hospital, his blood pressure had dropped to a dangerous level and he had lost control of his muscles and bodily functions. He spent two days in intensive care and it took over a week to fully recover.

Dave probably suffered an allergic reaction. Most rattlesnake bites contain hemotoxic elements which damage tissue and affect the circulatory system by destroying blood cells, skin tissues, and causing internal hemorrhaging. Baby rattlesnakes have venom which contains more neurotoxic properties which immobilize the nervous system, affecting the victim’s breathing, sometimes stopping it.

From the monsoon season through the late fall, rattlesnakes are on the move and are expanding their hours of operation. Apparently, they like the high humidity and cooler temperatures and are trying to put on weight for hibernation.

A couple of days after we heard about Dave, I was with the dogs on a routine, quarter-mile morning walk to get the newspaper when a big snake coiled and rattled a few feet away while Lalo happened to be off the leash. I let out a weird guttural yowl and the dogs chased me home. My neighbor dismissed my suggestion that we relocate the snake. He believes in leaving them alone and never sees them a second time. Rattlesnakes are territorial and often do not survive relocation.

The snake probably has a den nearby. He is probably in charge of controlling rodents in the neighborhood, protecting us from Hantavirus, maintaining the balance of nature, and scaring us half to death.

Today, my wife encountered the same snake in the same place, so she took the long way home.

A Google search revealed the following fun facts:

• Eight thousand people suffer poisonous snake bites every year.

• Nine to fifteen of the victims die.

• The “malevolently handsome” Western Diamondback is responsible for most bites.

• Small children are most at risk of complications or death because of their small body size. (Our son grew up playing in arroyos. If I had known these things, he would have never gotten off the portal.)

If bitten, remain calm (yeah, right). Get to a hospital with antivenin in stock and call first so they can get it ready. Don’t kill the snake to bring along for identification because the same antivenin is used for all viper bites. Keep the bite below heart level and don’t ice it, shock it, cut it, suck it, or isolate it with a tourniquet. These things can do harm and they don’t know if they really change the outcome.

If a hospital is not an immediate option, you could be screwed. But remain calm and keep in mind that few bites are lethally envenomated. Medical opinion is widely divergent, but some experts recommend a snug bandage above the bite and a suction device may be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts.

If you encounter a rattlesnake at your home and want to remove it, it is best not to mess with it yourself. Call somebody who is experienced to relocate it. Try the fire department—by the time they arrive, the snake will probably be gone. Most bites occur while trying to catch, kill, or provoke the snake. (Rattlesnakes provoke very easily.) Watch your step. Don’t reach into potentially snake-infested terrain without looking first. Move to Connecticut.

Diamondbacks, besides being threatened by humans, often become meals for eagles, hawks, roadrunners, wild turkeys, coyotes, foxes, badgers, or even other snakes. Regarded as an enemy and a threat, they are sometimes trampled to death by deer, antelope, cattle, horses, and sheep. No wonder they’re mean!

Dave considers himself fortunate—that the whole experience was meant to be and actually cured his chronic heartburn. Snake venom may indeed have a positive side. Snakes have always been feared and revered by us humans. They play an important role in Southwestern cosmology, and they keep us mindful of our mortality. Wise men say you can’t fault a rattlesnake for being a rattlesnake.

Friends of Monument host workshop

Join the Friends of Coronado State Monument on September 20 at 10:00 a.m. for a fun and creative morning decorating your own pueblo “kiva” ladder. Learn the original use of these ladders in the pueblo world. Turquoise, fetishes, feathers, dream catchers, baskets, and natural materials will be available for designing your special ladder (about eighteen inches tall).

The cost of the workshop, including materials for making one ladder, is $30. Reservations are required. Contact Linda Vogel at 821-8432 before September 15 to reserve your space. The workshop will last about two hours.

The workshop will be held at the Sandoval County Historical Society’s DeLavy House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. From I-25, take Highway 550 (exit 242) to slightly past the entrance to the Coronado State Monument; then turn north on the west edge of the Phillips 66 station onto Edmond Road. Signs will be posted.

Coronado State Monument presents J.J. Brody lecture

"An Innocent Arrogance or the Ultimate Chutzpah?—Kuaua-Coronado Monument” is the title of J.J. Brody, Ph.D.’s presentation this month to the Friends of Coronado State Monument. The crux of the presentation will be how and why Coronado State Monument got its name—considering that the Monument’s primary glories lie in the seven-hundred-year history of the Kuaua pueblo, while Coronado’s visit was comparatively short. The lecture promises to educate, entertain, and provoke discussion.

Dr. Brody is a professor emeritus of art and art history at UNM and former director of the UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. His research interests are in ancient and modern Native American art.

The program will be presented by Friends of Coronado State Monument on September 21 at 2:00 p.m. and will be held at the Sandoval County Historical Society’s DeLavy House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. To reach DeLavy House, take Highway 550, slightly west of Coronado State Monument, turn north on the west edge of the Phillips 66 gas station and onto Edmond Road. Follow the road to its end; signs will be posted. The lecture is open to the public; no reservations are needed. Admission is $5 per person; the lecture is free to members of Friends of Coronado State Monument.

Sandoval County Fair showcases local talent and wares

The 32nd annual Sandoval County Fair was held from July 31 through August 3 at the Fairgrounds in Cuba, New Mexico. The Junior Livestock Sale drew record bids of over $54,500. The Grand Champion Steer was purchased by Don Chalmers of Don Chalmers Ford for $3,200, a purchase he has made for the past eight years.

4-H Youth exhibited a record number of entries in indoor exhibits, including leather craft, ceramics, photography, baking, canning, horticulture, and others. Senior High Point winner was Anne Meyer-Miner of Placitas. Christopher Barrios of Rio Rancho won Best of Show with a photograph of his goat.

New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service extends special thanks to the Sandoval County Commissioners; Sandoval County Fair Board; Intel; all buyers, donors, and volunteers who support the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension 4-H Program; and to Auctioneer Leroy Lovato of Bernalillo for the success of the sale. For information on the Sandoval County 4-H program, contact the Cooperative Extension office at 867-2582.

Native American dancers perform at Jemez Red Rock

The celebration of life through dance

Tracing their origin to the beginning of time, the Pueblo people believe their ancestors emerged from the Lower World through a lake and began a series of migrations that led them to their current location. Living first in pithouses and later in a series of multi-storied stone or mud villages, or remote cliff dwellings, these ancient people gathered wild plants; dry-farmed maize, beans, squash, and cotton; wove baskets and created ceramic pottery; domesticated turkeys; and hunted a wide variety of game, including buffalo.

All parts of Puebloan life—the agriculture, hunting, social customs, and communal life—were viewed as being interrelated and guided by supernatural forces. Everything depended on something else and nothing survived without the aid of the gods. In order to honor all that made up their world, the people performed ceremonial dances that coincided with the growing seasons, animal migrations, patterns of nature, the sun, the moon, the clouds, the wind, and the various stages of life. Some dances were offered as supplications, others as thanks.

Special clothing and ornamentation was used to increase the effectiveness of the dances. The skins of deer, bear, fox, and coyote were used, as were the feathers of turkeys, other birds, and eagles. Cloth was woven from the fibers of wild plants such as yucca, milkweed, and cotton. Sandals, sashes, and kilts were fashioned from cedar bark. Rattles were made from animal bones and hoofs. Whatever beast or plant was used was honored for surrendering its life-sustaining force as part of the ceremony.

Of special interest were the body paints, all of which were derived from natural substances, such as corn smut for black, ochers for yellow and red, clay for white and pink, and oxide of copper ore for turquoise. Each color had a special meaning and, depending on how it was used, carried a special power.

Masks, however, were the most highly developed items worn by the Pueblo dancers, who believed that the spirits of the supernaturals whom they portrayed were incorporated into the masks. Ranging in size from half-mask to full scalloped or terraced headdresses, the mask could be either very basic or decorated with bits of yarn, feathers, horsehair, or animal antlers.

In the sixteenth century, Spanish explorers discovered these peaceful people and named them Pueblo, meaning “city-dweller.“ Setting out to ‘civilize‘ the natives, they introduced new crops and domesticated animals. But they also prohibited the practice of any rite or ceremony that conflicted with their concept of religion. Ceremonial costumes were ripped to shreds, body paints were destroyed, and masks and headdresses were burned. Although they continued to dance in secrecy, the Pueblo people allowed themselves to be subjugated by the Spaniards. But after years of deprivation and persecution, they joined forces, rebelled, and drove the oppressors from their land.

The Puebloans were weakened by continued battles, as the Spaniards fought to regain control. Crops failed, disease ran rampant, villages were abandoned, and tribal unity fell apart. Twelve years after the rebellion, a tenuous truce was reached and the Spaniards returned.

At one time, there were as many as one hundred pueblos in northern New Mexico. Today, only nineteen remain. Although life has changed drastically from the earliest days, much remains the same. The Pueblo people still believe that everything in their lives is interrelated and directed by supernatural forces; they still weave baskets and craft unique earthen pottery; they still live in villages; and they still dance.

In 1931, Erna Fergusson wrote the classic book Dancing Gods, which not only describes the Indian ceremonials of the Pueblo people, but also offers valuable advice on viewing their dances. “The only way to see the . . . dances in their entirety and done with real reverence is to go to the Pueblos, where they are danced in the way of the ancients. There you get a sense of the marvelous strength and cohesion of a people who, through four centuries of foreign domination, have maintained their ancestral worship.”

Sandoval County is home to seven active Pueblos: Cochiti, Jemez, Sandia Village, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, and Zia. Throughout the year, the public is invited to view traditional harvest dances, feast day dances, corn dances, deer dances, and many others. Like their ancestors, today’s dancers wear traditional ceremonial garments, masks, and body paint. And, like their ancestors, they pay homage to everything that makes up their world. “Most dances are accompanied by songs or chants sung by a chorus or by the dancers themselves. Some of the songs are so old that the language is obsolete and even the singers do not know the meaning of the sounds. Notched sticks may be rasped against a sounding board or gourd. Occasionally, bird-bone whistles are heard—shrill notes about the steady drone of drumbeat and human voice.”

In his book, Pueblo Gods and Myths, Hamilton A. Tyler observed, “Looking back, the Pueblos have two great assets: they are still [here]—which is a Herculean feat for any culture—and they are still dancing.”

For a complete list of dances open to the public, visit or contact the Pueblo you wish to visit. Unlike powwows or public performances, these dances are considered religious ceremonies and as such should be treated with respect and reverence. If you go, please observe appropriate etiquette, abide by tribal regulations, and be prepared to witness something truly remarkable.







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